Navigation Links
'REST' is crucial for the timing of brain development

Upon fertilisation, a single cell is formed when egg and sperm fuse. Our entire body, with more than 200 specialised cell types and billions of cells are formed from this single cell. It is a scientific mystery how the early stem cells know what cell type to become, but a precise timing of the process is crucial for correct development and function of our body. Researchers across the world chase knowledge about our stem cells, as this knowledge holds great promises for development of treatment against several major diseases. Researchers from BRIC, University of Copenhagen, have just shown that the molecule REST acts as an adapter in stem cells, coupling molecular on-off switches with neural genes and thereby times neuronal development.

"REST secure neuronal genes to be turned off in our stem cells until the correct time point in fetal life, where the molecule is lost and development of the nervous system begins. Our results are very important for the understanding of how genes are turned on and off during fetal development, but also relates to disease development such as cancer. Hopefully, our future studies of REST will contribute to the development of new types of treatments," says Associate Professor and Group Leader at BRIC, Klaus Hansen.

Genetic switches

All our cells contain the same DNA, yet they can develop into specialised cells with different shapes and functions. This ability is due to only selective genes being turned on in for example neuronal cells and other genes in liver cells and skin cells. Postdoc Nikolaj Dietrich from Klaus Hansen's laboratory has been the main driver of the investigation:

"Our results show that REST act as an adapter for the protein complexes called PRCs, connecting these complexes to neuronal genes. The PRCs are genetic switches turning off genes and therefore REST and the PRCs act in concert to shutdown neuronal genes. A similar mechanism has previously been described in fruit flies, but until now, no one has been able to identify such adapter-molecules in humans or other mammals. This has led to various biological hypotheses, but now we are able to show that this genetic mechanism has been conserved trough out evolution," says Nikolaj Dietrich.

Brain damage and brain tumors

REST and PRC are attached to neuronal genes in the early fetal stem cells, keeping neuronal genes turned off. During fetal development, REST disappears in cells that are determined to develop into neuronal cells, whereas the molecule is preserved in other cell types. REST is also preserved in special neuronal stem cells, ensuring that these cells maintain their stem cell properties. This is crucial if we experience damage to our nervous system later in life, as only the neuronal stem cells can repair the damage by giving rise to new neurons and thereby secure vital body functions. However, REST also appears to be associated with a higher risk of cancer:

"An increased amount of REST has been found in the brain tumor form called neuroblastoma. Some of our results indicate that REST may be involved in cancer, as the molecule can turn off some growth-inhibitory and cancer-protective genes called tumor suppressors. This possible action of REST is the focus of ongoing studies," says Nikolaj Dietrich.


Contact: Klaus Hansen
(45) 21-15-55-64
University of Copenhagen

Related biology news :

1. Floor of oldest forest discovered in Schoharie County
2. Reversing Alzheimers gene blockade can restore memory, other cognitive functions
3. Study shows earthworms to blame for decline of ovenbirds in northern Midwest forests
4. Mercyhurst research aims to predict impact of invasive forest pest
5. Florida State chemist to receive prestigious award for rising faculty stars
6. Study: Nations urban forests losing ground
7. As climate change increases forest fires, smoke forecasting could help protect public health
8. AAAS-SFU research: Controlling forest fires
9. First industrial-scale foam forming research environment for forest sector
10. New procedure repairs severed nerves in minutes, restoring limb use in days or weeks
11. Satellite study reveals critical habitat and corridors for worlds rarest gorilla
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015 Daon, a global leader in mobile ... a new version of its IdentityX Platform , ... America have already installed IdentityX v4.0 and ... FIDO UAF certified server component as an ... FIDO features. These customers include some of the largest ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar ... technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities that ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long before ... existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, ... moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office into ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Today, LifeBEAM , a leader ... a global leader in technical performance sports clothing ... advanced bio-sensing technology. The hat will allow fitness ... biometrics to improve overall training performance. As a ... bring together the most advanced technology, extensive understanding ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS; ... and prospects remain fundamentally strong and highlights the ... recently received DSMB recommendation to continue the ZoptEC ... of the final interim efficacy and safety data ... in men with heavily pretreated castration- and Taxane-resistant ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... LUMPUR, Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... global contract research organisation (CRO) market. The trend ... result in lower margins but higher volume share ... increased capacity and scale, however, margins in the ... Research Organisation (CRO) Market ( ), ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an ... is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 ... Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader ... five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness ... competing for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid ...
Breaking Biology Technology: